Monday, September 12, 2011

Lascaux Cave Paintings

Today is the anniversary of the discovery of the Lascaux cave in France, and I think that's worth calling attention to, so I've written my column for Small Town Newspaper on the subject. You can read it here.

There are plenty of papers and discussions arguing whether or not these paintings are art or simply drawings, so let me chime in with what I think. This is art. There are such subtle techniques in these paintings of animals and geometric shapes, with thought put into color and style. There is air brushing and stamping and painting done with animal-hair brushes. And among the 2,000 images, there are different styles to suggest different artists.

The animals display the variations of their natural character, which took time to observe and intentional planning and execution. Antlers on the deer-like animals are varied and even whimsical, and I can't help but think of Dr. Seuss characters when I look at them.

I really doubt the people who painted these cave walls and ceilings 17,000-plus years ago thought about what people today would think about them and their work, and I doubt they thought about ways to preserve the cave for millennia—I might be wrong here—but we have the advantage of hind sight. And we have the ability to preserve our work for future ages. That's the lesson I hope we can learn by studying the Lascaux paintings. Creating and preserving art is worth our time, money and trouble.

1 comment:

dive said...

Another fabulous piece, Robyn, and one on a subject that has always fascinated me. Neolithic artists were amazing; their techniques would not be rivalled until the Renaissance and their imagery and atavistic truth not until Picasso.
Wonderful stuff! Thank you for writing it.